interview by paul taylor photos by wayne maser

what was your material like when you were nineteen?
um, horrible.
do you remember any of your early bits?
well, i was never into telling jokes, but the first joke i had, i’d get onstage and go, ‘hello. i’m a medium…and this is an extra-small; this is a large’.
the flipside of the guts it takes to be a stand-up comedian is the fear - …
and the rejection and failure? which is a nightly routine. you really get immune to it in a weird way.
how do you account for the comedy boom..?
it’s just the most simplistic kind of entertainment. it’s almost gladiatorial.

why did you do that big lesbian stunt with madonna?
i’ve got to be honest with you. that was never something that was planned or that was intentional at all.
perhaps the word was already out that you were gay, and they just assumed the rest.
i don’t think anybody thinks about me sexually, nor do i think thy care. i’m not a femme fatale. i’m not michelle Pfeiffer. what difference does it make? You know what I mean? nobody’s after my ass.
do you think it hurts somebody’s career in hollywood to be gay?
not if the public loves you. I don’t know. it probably does. i just think all of this personal stuff is just a crock of shit anyway. Who cares?…you know, this is a weird town, and people do things for appearance’s sake much of the time…it’s just because it looks good.

there are more movies and documentaries about aids on tv than before.
when there was first an awareness of aids, they did a couple of those films. they just capitalize on it but it’s good that they do it. it does ease mid-america’s fear and suspicion.
your humour is angry
my humour is not angry.
and it’s sarcastic.
i disagree with you on both fronts. if you think it’s sarcastic, then you’re missing the vulnerability. i think my work is more about honesty than it is about anger. i think that to be angry is to be really cut off.
you’ve really been working it – posing, filming, talking, writing.
what else am I going to do with all my time?
for a long time, you know, people wrote ‘ the beautiful-ugly’ sandra bernhard. the beautiful-ugly. What the fuck does that mean? should i run and have my nose done? should i have my tits made bigger? i could look a lot like every other girl in the world…maybe i’m just going to deal with what i am right now and be ok about it.

Interview 03/90